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2011 Year End Summary

By Eric Van De Graaff, MD January 09, 2012 Posted in: Heart Health

This week marks the 3rd year in a row that I’ve published a new post every week without missing as much as a single deadline.  All together this represents over 150 separate articles on a wide range of subjects which, if compiled in book form, would result in a thick, stately tome perfect for serving as a sturdy doorstop or to level out an uneven kitchen table.  But, since I’ve never been tempted to shop my work around to prospective publishing houses, and since the only place you can find my weekly drivel is on the internet, I’m afraid you’ll have to stuff your desktop computer in your entry way if you indeed have a door in need of propping.

Just as I’ve done for the last two years I am taking this opportunity recap the highlights from the posts of 2011.  Not only does it give readers an opportunity to catch up on subjects they failed to read the first time around but it also affords me a convenient excuse to mindlessly recycle old material.  I’ll also add a shameless plug for 2012’s topics: if you want to have my posts emailed to you every Monday simply click on the “subscribe” button on the site.  That way, as you settle into bed with my latest post on your laptop, you’ll be assured a cure to your insomnia at least one night a week.

Here’s a list of medical maladies, diagnostic dilemmas, and common quandaries that this year’s blog addressed (with a link to the original article included at no extra cost):

You’ve got a terminal illness and your doctor gives you 6 weeks, 3 days, and 8 hours to live.  How accurate is your doctor’s prediction and should you be buying green bananas? (March 7)

The TV commercials tell you that the drug you’re taking can cause every side effect imaginable, including eyeball rashes, uncontrollable flatulence, stuttering in foreign languages, and bellybutton lint.  How worried should you be? (August 1)  And, if you’re sick of all the unnecessary warnings you should know that we are, too. (August 15)

If a doctor needs to be reminded to brush his teeth and use deodorant, do you really want him holding your life in his grubby hands? (February 21)

For the treatment of chronic pain, how does a daily dose of Skittles and M&Ms compare with your current pain pills? (January 24)  And if you have heart disease, what are your options for pain medication that won’t cause you to croak? (August 22)

Your doctor, a young surgery resident, falls asleep while she’s examining you.  Are you really that boring or is she just sleep deprived? (July 11)

What do octopus traps have to do with Valentines Day? (February 14)

I exercise daily but I find that I get winded trying to keep up with my overactive grandkids.  Do I need to double my dose of Geritol?  (March 21)

We hear so often about young athletes dying unexpectedly that you start to wonder if it has become an epidemic.  Are we putting our love of sports above our concern for the health of our children? (March 28)

Sure, that 60 mph rollercoaster seems a little dangerous, but it’s not nearly the most hazardous thing you can expect to find at amusement parks. (May 16)

You just survived a heart attack thanks to the quick service provided at your local hospital and you want to express your gratitude.  To whom do you send the basket of fruit? (July 4)

Thank goodness for the sake of our country I’m not a candidate for the White House. I’m sure I’d find some way to mess things up more than they are now. (June 13)

Has the electronic medical record (April 18) produced a better experience (April 4) for you as the patient or does it just provide job security for lots of computer programmers?

Is the song “Am I Blue” stuck in your head? If so it is possible that you are both old (it was written in 1929) and mildly depressed.  What can you do? (August 8)

Your lung’s air sacs cheer the moment you finally stop smoking.  How long before they start to mend? (May 30)

Have you ever been tempted toss out all the “patient autonomy” stuff and let you doctor make the tough decisions?  Surgery, no surgery?  Test further? Leave it alone? I give up.  You’re the doctor—just tell me what to do. (May 23)

When’s the last time you heard the phrase “I don’t know” come out of your doctor’s mouth? Does the Hippocratic Oath somehow prohibit these three words? (September 19)

The economic times are tight.  Can’t afford the top-of-the-line treadmill or the most expensive branded medications?  Here are some tips for the budget-conscious heart patients. (March 14)

Did your cardiologist offer you a money-back guarantee on your last stress test?  Full refund if you die from a heart attack.  Is such a thing feasible? (June 27)

Did your high school history book have a chapter on the history of stroke?  No?  Well, here’s your chance to catch up. (May 2)

Is your doctor trying to torture you by sticking you in the waiting room for hours with nothing but Fox News on the TV and 3-year-old Redbooks? (July 18)

Zombies take over the world.  Does Aunt Melba, who is now wandering the earth looking for her next meal of brains, need to keep her follow-up pacemaker appointment? (April 25)

Your doctor expects you to trust everything he tells you.  So why doesn’t he believe you? (August 30)

You hear that your doctor has become a theater performer.  Does this mean she is playing Ophelia in the upcoming Hamlet revival? (July 25)

Is your doctor on the take?  Are his prescription practices influenced by shady deals in smoky, dimly lit back rooms of the clinic?  Where else can you turn to ferret out the truth?  Of course: the internet (September 12)

Do your doctors really communicate about your health care or do they just gab about golf? (May 9)

The knowledge base your doctor uses to practice medicine bears little resemblance to what she needs to pass her board exams.  Just be glad your particular health problems aren’t bizarre enough to show up on the test. (September 26)

Are you mad that you wasted several valuable minutes of your short life reading this worthless blog?  Be careful—your heart may suffer from your hot-headed rage. (October 10)

Want to trim down for good without resorting to fad diets?  Want to get off the Yo-Yo weight control plan?  Want to be one of those people who are “effortlessly” thin?  It may take some effort. (October 17)

Should cardiologists install a wine cellar in their waiting rooms?  It might make for healthier hearts as well as more relaxed doctor visits. (November 7)

Like moles, bats, and vampires, radiologists spend most of their lives in dark, enclosed spaces.  Shouldn’t we brighten their lives and pay them a visit every now and again? (February 7)

Are you a young, attractive female with a desire to smell bad, develop leathery skin, and take on a hacking cough?  Who wouldn’t?  Here’s how. (October 3)

At what point does your great grandfather need to turn in his keys to the 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood?  How many more mailboxes need to suffer senseless destruction before you finally confiscate his driver’s license? (October 30)

There you have it—every burning medical issue you’ve faced over the last 365 days answered in one convenient blog post.  Stay tuned for more exciting stuff planned for 2012 (maybe not all that exciting, but at least you can continue to count on falling asleep quickly every Monday night).

Eric Van De Graaff, MD
Eric Van De Graaff, MD

Eric Van De Graaff, MD is a Heart & Vascular Specialist at CHI Health Clinic.

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